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Have you heard about diaspora*?

Posted by Estelle on 6 novembre 2017

Every now and then, we like to talk about the great projects that are being supported by WebTranslateIt. Diaspora* is one of them.

Diaspora* was founded in 2010 by Dan Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy.
They met at New York University’s Courant Institute and decided to create Facebook’s non-profit ethical competitor: a federated social network where decentralization, privacy and freedom are top priorities.

It was such a bold initiative that they got the attention of the media and even the New York Times wrote about them in an article entitled Four Nerds and A Cry to Arms Against Facebook.
Diaspora* has been around for 7 years now and is not ready to let go.

We asked Dennis Schubert, Project Manager, to tell us more about it.

WTI: Who are the people behind diaspora* and what was their main motivation?
D.S.: The project was founded by Dan Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, Raphael Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy back in 2010. Back then, we basically only had Facebook and Twitter, both are centralized systems. Distributed systems have a lot of advantages, especially for social networks when it comes to topics like privacy or availability.
And since August 2012, diaspora* is completely managed and developed by a community team.

WTI: How is diaspora* maintained and developed?
D.S.: Diaspora* is based on a Ruby on Rails backend with a JavaScript heavy frontend and we currently have a team of 10-15 active code contributors. In total, 490 people contributed to the project on GitHub.
In addition, we use WebTranslateIt to translate both diaspora* and our website into 93 languages with the help of more than 600 volunteers.

WTI: How do you finance the project?
D.S.: We kinda… don’t. Technically, we do not collect money for the project itself since we do not have fixed expenses. However, we do use bountysource.com to allow people to put bounties on individual issues.
When someone wants to work on an issue, they can simply submit a pull request and when that’s done, they’ll get the bounty on that issue paid out.
Some contributors pick issues because of the bounties, however, some simply pick issues they deemed interesting.
In addition, bountysource.com allows people to donate money, which allows the maintainer team to put bounties on issues. We pick the issues based on user demand and by value to the project.

WTI: How many users do you have?
D.S.: Hard to say! We collect optional usage statistics on the-federation.info, which would bring us to 651.328 users right now.
However, publishing the statistics is entirely optional, so we cannot say how much users we actually have!

WTI: Are there any features your team is working on right now and for which you need help in priority?
D.S.: Well there are a lot of important issues, but most of them are not very
contributor-friendly. At bountysource, there is a list of issues with the highest bounties, so that’s what users feel is important. A guide on how to pick stuff to work on is written in our Get involved section and linked documents.

If you want to help out diaspora*, you know where to start :

WebTranslateIt offers a free subscription to every non profit organization in need of translating a project, even more so if it is an open source one so don’t hesitate to contact us if you need us.

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New in WebTranslateIt: E-mail notifications about segments to verify and to proofread

Posted by Edouard on 30 octobre 2017

Today we released another of our most requested features. As many of you know, it is possible to receive e-mail notifications about new segments to translate.

If you don’t know about it, it’s super easy to set up. Go to your project settings and look for “Events » Check for new segments to work on”, select a frequency (daily or hourly) and who to notify.

Until today this feature was only sending e-mail notifications about new segments being added to a project. But what about segments needing proofreading or verification?

From now on, we will now send e-mails about segments being modified and needing to be worked on like for instance new segments to proofread or new segments to verify.

Hi,

There has been some changes in the project WebTranslateIt. Here’s what needs to be done:

In French:


Cheers,
– WebTranslateIt

Also, if you are a user having translation rights to multiple languages you will get a notification e-mail about the multiple languages.

Hi Edouard,

There has been some changes in the project WebTranslateIt. Here’s what needs to be done:

In German:


In English:


In Spanish:


In French:


In Italian:


In Russian:


In Swedish:


Cheers,
– WebTranslateIt

Note: We initially released this feature on the 25th of September but rolled it back due to our user’s feedback. We re-released it today with the ability to fine-tune what gets sent to our users. You can now control if you want your users to receive e-mails about new segments to translate, or about segments to proofread or to verify.

I hope you will find this improvement useful. Thank you for using WebTranslateIt.


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Have you heard about the European Resistance Archive?

Posted by Estelle on 16 octobre 2017

By Oliver Grimm, Technical Lead – European Resistance Archive

The European Resistance Archive (ERA) is an online video archive featuring interviews with women and men who tell their individual stories of resistance to the terror, humiliation and despair fascism cast over Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Why ERA?

The idea for the ERA was born in 2005 in Reggio Emilia, northern Italy, where the local historical institute Istoreco integrated former partisans into their educational programs. The living participants met with school classes and youth groups to share their personal experiences; what happened to them in the second world war, how they encountered the rise of fascism, and their individual path into the resistance movements.

Unfortunately, the majority of former partisans have already died, and in a few years there will be no one remaining who can directly remember that time. Keeping these memories, this precious knowledge alive, making it accessible to everyone everywhere was and still is the motivation behind the European Resistance Archive.

Keeping these memories, this precious knowledge alive, making it accessible to everyone everywhere was and still is the motivation behind the European Resistance Archive.

Realization of the project

Istoreco managed to organize partners and groups in six European countries, and thus the project was accepted and funded by the European Commission in 2006. In the process of creating the ERA, young people participated actively in the realization of the project, in the form of conducting the interviews, collecting images and documents, writing down biographies, and transcribing interviews. Historians, memory workers, and a professional video-team guided the young participants in their work. Overall more than 80 people were involved.

The result is an online archive – a collection of 21 video interviews with contemporary eyewitnesses from Poland, France, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, and Germany. In addition, the archive provides an overview of each of these countries’ respective resistance movements, so as to better set the interviews in their proper historical context.

10 years later

A small internet agency in Kreuzberg (Berlin, Germany) was responsible for the technical production. At the time of its launch, in May 2007, the ERA was a state of the art project, but after almost ten years later it had become outmoded. Much of it was technically outdated and none of the video clips could be played on mobile phones or tablets.

The latter problem was a real show stopper, because mobile phones and tablets are what the majority of the target audience – pupils and young people – are using.
A complete technical revision of the ERA became inevitable and was started in mid 2017. The aim was to eliminate the technical issues, to modernize the design, and to adapt the display for different screen sizes.

Missing translations and WebTranslateIt

The ERA version 2.0 was launched in fall 2017. While the aforementioned issues have been solved, the archive has still only been fully translated into English, and the rest of the content is only partly available in other languages.
In order to get all of the content translated into all “ERA languages” a Github-based open source project was initiated, so that the effort could be crowd-sourced. This even got support from Babbel volunteers.

Unfortunately it turned out very quickly that that approach was too tech-heavy. Instead of working on the actual translations, most of the volunteers struggled with the technical terminology, the git flow and the principles of “pull requests”…

The solution best suited to this less than satisfactory situation was to switch to a professional translation tool. One of the candidates was WebTranslateIt, which Babbel uses to translate their platform and Apps. After a short evaluation period everyone involved voted for the switch.

WebTranslateIt did not hesitate to classify the ERA as open source project, which provides free access to all WTI features. As there is no proper funding for the ERA, WebTranslateIt’s support is highly appreciated.

What’s next? You!

While WebTranslateIt yielded a significant performance boost, there is still a lot of work to do, and a lot of content to be translated. Want to contribute to the ERA translation project ? Do you speak French, German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, or English? Just go to http://www.resistance-archive.org/en/participate/ and sign up.

Oliver Grimm, Technical Lead – European Resistance Archive



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An ever-lasting issue for multilingual websites: which language icon?

Posted by Edouard on 13 octobre 2017

Finding a simple visual cue that can be inserted on your front page to notify your users that your website is available in several languages is a tough problem to solve. Here are 4 classic ways to implement a language switcher, plus a lesser known way.

1. Just listing your languages

The most simple and effective way to let people switch language is to just list the languages you support. This is what Facebook does that and so do we. People expect this list to be in your footer, and the languages should be listed in their original, non-translated names. English for English, Français for French, Deutsch for German, etc.

Pros & Cons

On the upside, your users will eventually find a language that they know if it’s listed there.

The downside is that it takes up a lot of space in your design, so you might be temped to only use this on your landing page. Facebook trims it to the list of the most used languages and adds a “plus sign” to view all their supported languages.

2. A language dropdown menu

You can also insert a drop-down menu set by default on the current language, like English for instance. This is what Stripe does this for instance.

Pros & Cons

On the upside, it takes up less space in the footer compared to the previous solution.

The downside is that it lacks clarity for a user browsing the website in a language that he doesn’t know. As you can see on the image below I would get lost on the Chinese version of Stripe’s website 😅

This is where an icon helping foreign users identify the language switcher would come handy.

3. A language dropdown menu using country flags

Some multilingual websites who make the choice of using an icon often use a country flag which changes with your choice of language. This is how Slack does it for instance.

Pros & Cons

On the upside colorful flags attract attention. They also are universally known and people understand that they might be able to change some kind of regional setting here.

The downside is clear: country flags represent countries, not languages and some users won’t like it. Users visiting your website from the United Kingdom may not like to see the stars and stripes banner. Also, an American user might not like to see the Union Jack banner. Besides, English isn’t the only language spoken in UK. What about Welsh, Scottish, Gaelic? Basically, you may hurt people’s sensitivity.

4. A language dropdown menu using neutral icons

Designing an icon conveying the meaning of “Changing Language” is hard. Popular choices are icons of a globe, or a flag, or a globe in a flag, as Apple does.

Pictures of “exotic” characters such as 文 are popular too. This is what Google and Microsoft use in their user interfaces.

Pros & Cons

The upside is that while these icons are clearly visible, they won’t hurt anyone’s sensitivity.

The downside is that these icons aren’t unified across software vendors so it might be difficult for a user to identify quickly and precisely what this icon means unlike the hamburger button or cog icon which are now known by many people using computer interfaces.

Now, wouldn’t it be nice if there was an widespread, already existing user interface icon that conveys the idea of changing languages? Well, you know what? There kind of is.

The language Icon project

The language icon project attempts to change that. The language icon icon was designed during a competition in 2011.

The initiative is very interesting and the design clever.

Some could argue that this design, if never seen before, might not straight away be perceived as a language icon, but it surely would if it was used more by software vendors.

It is meant to be used for commercial and non-commercial projects. It was released under a CC license with following terms: Relax-Attribution. It means that if you use it, you are suggested but not required to attribute the work to its creator when using for internet or digital use.

If software vendors were to use it more, it would become the norm like our beloved hamburger button, and it would become an obvious choice for any developer when localizing their software.

And who knows, maybe an even better Language Icon or —even better— an Emoji defining “Change Language” will pop up one day?



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New in WebTranslateIt: Improvements to the character counter

Posted by Edouard on 11 octobre 2017

We just released a few improvements to how characters are counted on WebTranslateIt.

First of all, we now display a character counter at the bottom of each translation box.

For those of you unfamiliar with this kind of counter (it is quite widespread on translation tools), the number on the left is the amount of characters in the source text and the number on the right is the amount of characters in the target text.

If a lot of text is being typed in the translation box you will notice that the target text character count turns orange. It’s a sign that your translation could be too verbose.

We also revamped how the character counter works on segments including a character limit.

Finally, we also added one project setting to let you choose how you want WebTranslateIt to count characters: by characters or by bytes. By default we count a character as a character (using a grapheme counter).

It means that “A” is 1 character, “🤔” is 1 character and “की” is 1 character.

However, we know that some tools you rely on still count characters using bytes, and some characters are made of several bytes, so for some tools “A” would be 1 character and “🤔” and “की” would be 2 characters.

We hope you will find these improvements useful. Until then, don’t hesitate to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.